After reports of alleged police high-handedness on the public while trying to enforce lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus, the Assam Police is now facing a violent backlash from the people in some places.
Two such incidents were reported in Bongaigaon and Dhubri districts, both in lower Assam, on Friday and Saturday where people attacked policemen trying to close shops and market places.
On Friday, two police personnel from the Chapar station in Dhubri were injured when they were attacked by a crowd at Phalimari Bazar. Around 300 people had reportedly gathered there at a market in violation of lockdown government guidelines.
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One policeman was attacked with sticks while another who was trying to protect him was hit by a brick on his head. Both are admitted at a local hospital and stated to be stable.
On Saturday morning, a group of shopkeepers and customers attacked a police team in Bongaigaon when they tried to stop them from opening shops at Bodi Bazar.
“When the police team was returning after closing the shops, people pelted stones at them. We fired few rounds in the air to disperse the crowd and the situation is now under control. No one was injured,” said Singha Ram Mili, superintendent of police Bongaigaon.
Police have arrested over a dozen people in both the cases and registered FIRs against them.
On Thursday, mass violations of social distancing guidelines by public at market places across Assam had forced the state government to shut all markets immediately till further orders. Only grocery shops and pharmacies have been allowed to operate.
“We have been tasked to implement the lockdown and we can’t back off from that. In course of that if people resort to violence, we will also have to take action as per law,” said ADGP (Law and Order) GP Singh.
“It’s a difficult situation. This particular lockdown is for the safety of the public. Despite these incidents our morale is high and will continue to remain so. I am touring both places on Saturday to take stock of the situation,” he added.
Earlier this week there were reports that a pharmacy owner in Golaghat district was caned by police when he was going to open his establishment. In another instance, a newspaper vendor was reportedly assaulted by police in Nalbari.
“Even a national emergency can’t justify such blatant violation of a civilian’s basic human right of living with dignity. If anyone is found to be loitering in the streets without due cause, then that person should be booked and the courts of law should be allowed to penalize him,” leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia wrote to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.